January 23, 2017

January Moods - Walden Changes

After several days of nursing a cold, I take a walk around Walden today for some healing communion.  Moody weather is moving in ahead of a forecast nor-easter.  It's late January, but it looks and feels like March has arrived.  The wind is quickening carrying troughs of both warm and icy air across the pond. Fierce snow squalls come and go and only a third of Walden's surface is frozen, with just a thin film of ice instead of the gleaming firm surface that usually marks a January day.

This scene that I photographed on January 17, 2015 is closer to Walden's familiar winter aspect ...

Today, in Thoreau's Cove, open water laps the shoreline with no hint of the ice adornments that gleamed here in mid-December.

Tributes hang nearby...

Back out on the pond, the northeast wind howls toward the western shore and snow squalls are whirling across its surface.

But as I round the turn to the southern shore and move further into the lee of the wind, a thin high tinkling sound catches my attention -- "ice chimes," pond music more often heard during spring "ice out" time when thinning edges of the ice are fractured by wind-whipped waves and the gleaming shards wash into one another and over still solid ice nearby.

Listen carefully for the soft tinkling of the ice, between wind gusts...

As I'm now reading my way through Walden Pond:  A History, by Barksdale Maynard, today's circumambulation reaffirms that in so many ways Walden Pond, in its now re-forested basin may, in some ways, offer an "experience of wildness" closer to that in the precolonial era than in almost any time since....thanks to preservation efforts over the last forty years.  But at the same time, my New England sensibilities warn me that this January's vistas of open water and no snow cover are not normal.   Subtler and more irrevocable forces of change are underway with warming seasons, greater extremes in weather, invading floral and faunal species, and the pressures of our ever increasing population.  Now more than ever, we need to be constantly vigilant about local, state, and federal policies and our own personal choices that can impact this planet's environmental integrity and all that truly sustains us and this very special place.

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